Considering the Lessons Learned

As one who despises the first day of any job and struggles with a ridiculous lack of self confidence through the first week, I decided to torture myself by counting up my recent employment firsts–four in three months. And I feel like I might be forgetting one.

Job one–event planning in Key West. I knew at the end of day one that something was not quite right. I forced myself to hang in for five weeks, however, thinking it was just my first-week insecurity run amok. Should have bailed much sooner.

Lesson learned: to never again ignore my inner voice, especially when it is screaming at me.

Job two–Maitre d’/glorified host. Actually, I enjoyed this job, despite the close friend of the owner who vented his intense anger at me because I didn’t recognize him my second, very busy night on the job and made him wait a half hour for a table that wasn’t the one at which he “always” sat. I knew I was making progress with my first-week syndrome when I casually mentioned to my manager that the guy at table 211 needed to tell someone other than myself how inept I was. When my manager laughed it off after personally taming Mr. Self-Important Regular’s ruffled feathers, I laughed with him. Definite progress. Unfortunately, the greater HR powers of the restaurant never understood what I was supposed to be paid. I really couldn’t live on the promised pay, much less…less, and it was only after I left Key West that I received my retroactive back wages a month later.

Lesson learned: that at least one decent manager existed in Key West, and that I could eliminate my first-week insecurity crap by simply doing my best and caring less.

Job three–Bartender. When I arrived for my first day at work and was handed a ring full of keys and a bank and was told to “go open the outside bar,” I put aside my first-day angst during a 20-minute endeavor to figure out which key went to which locked door, storm shutter, cooler, etc. A manager finally showed up to show me where a few things were that I “might need”–like ice and back-up booze. My first order was a virgin pina colada, during the making of which I burned up one rusted blender and laid hands on the other to will it to work. No tip. By the end of the shift, I’d concocted multiple “lemonade” drinks for a vacationing couple who said they hadn’t been home for months, three vodka/crans and a Bloody Mary. Total tip take: $19.

Lesson learned: My inner voice only needed to wink at me. Done and done.

Job four–Bartender. I have to commute almost an hour to another town for this one, but no matter. I was nervous for only the first half hour and then got right back into the ebb and flow of tending a locals bar very far off the tourist path. By my second shift I knew the cast of regulars. By my third shift, some of my former customers from my previous locals bar had found me, despite the distance. Very nice. It’s a decent job, for now, but I may have to supplement it with a second one.

Lesson learned: Lessons, lessons everywhere. Gotta recognize them as they happen; gotta learn from them as you can. Until the next one.







7 responses to “Considering the Lessons Learned”

  1. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Reminds me of why I love being self employed 🙂

  2. last one home Avatar

    “lemonade drinks”=sour mix

  3. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Kim–Ah, those were the days.

    last one home–in this case, sour mix along with vodka, club soda, and grenadine. Yuck–but they loved RG’s Pink Lemonade. I know, not terribly original, but they accounted for most of the $19 I made that day!

  4. joeinvegas Avatar

    So, destined to be a bartender all along. Without the short order cook part?

  5. Linda S Avatar
    Linda S

    SO glad to see you posting again. You sounded so miserable in the previous one. I am really impressed by your strength. I’m glad this new job seems to be working out.

  6. Angie Avatar

    Well said!

  7. vandervecken Avatar

    I just “learned” a similar lesson this week — taking a second job at a well-known corporate labor camp against my own better judgement. I knew not to take the job, but I did it anyway. After a 2 weeks of training as though I were prepping for an LSAT and another week on the floor, it was clear I had made a mistake. I was miserable, and on hour twelve of my second consecutive double-shift with no break my mind could only manufacture the thoughts “what have I done to myself?” and “this is my life now, and I don’t want it.”

    Multiple, consecutive 15 hour shifts with no break being standard operating procedure was only the tip of the iceberg. Rather than waiting the >6 months it would take before I ran away screaming, I nipped back to the old job and revoked my “scheduling constraints”. I only hope I haven’t screwed myself, but old job seemed receptive.

    Lesson: Like you said, don’t ignore that little voice! This was a “next one” I’ve learned and had reinforced in the past — any job that slams an iron gate down on you from the getgo will never get any better. There is no middle ground — either you put a foot down and become the “person who said ‘No’”, or you let them walk all over until you are a burnt, desiccated husk of a former person.Been there, done that, stole the glasses!